CLEVELAND. — The Wizards ignored the legend of LeBron James and defeated the Cavaliers 89-84 in Game 2 last night.
James let his inner wimp show after both Jared Jeffries and Brendan Haywood delivered hard fouls in the first quarter.
Each time James walked around the court as if he had been assaulted with a bat in a dark alley.
Each time the addle-brained crowd booed as if a crime against humanity had been committed.
And each time James’ teammates walked toward the evil perpetrator and let the person know that this kind of wickedness would not be tolerated in this hardscrabble city.
Apparently, no one has let James and the Cavaliers know that these are the playoffs and hard fouls are permitted. In fact, hard fouls are encouraged.
After Anderson Varejao delivered a karate chop to Gilbert Arenas, the two-time All-Star guard did not even acknowledge it. He did not even look in the direction of the player known as the “Wild Thing” because of his crazy-looking hairdo. Why give the mop-topped one the satisfaction? His kind is sometimes hair today, gone tomorrow.
Unlike Arenas, James succumbed to his bad-man pose after each foul.
The poor thing walked around in a snit, making all sorts of ugly faces. He looked as if he was ready to burst into tears out of frustration. He wanted justice served. He wanted the mug shots of the criminals to be hung in the nearest post office.
It was as if James was saying, “How could they do this to me? Don’t they know that I am the Messiah and that I discovered fire and then invented the wheel?”
The Wizards saw something important in those moments.
They saw a player who does not like to take a hit if he is not initiating it. They saw a player miss his next four shot attempts and commit two turnovers. They saw a player basically disappear in the second quarter.
All the true believers in the stands undoubtedly had a hard time accepting this. Their team has not been in the playoffs in eight years and they probably have forgotten what grind-it-out basketball is like in the playoffs.
And this was a grind-it-out affair.
Nothing came easy, not even a dunk attempt by James in the third quarter.